UPDATE, 8:43 pm: Cordero is set to sign a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays to be their set-up man. That leads me to believe the Phillies were never serious suitors, because I assumed it would cost more than that to acquire Cordero. If the Phillies had offered $3-3.5 million for Cordero, I’d be happy with that number. Alas, he heads north.
It’s not that I don’t like the two relief pitchers. Brad Lidge will always have a place in my heart. He’ll go down as one of the best relievers in Phillies history, not to mention the most famous for his pose after throwing that beautiful slider to Carlos Ruiz in the 2008 World Series. We’ll always have those memories.
Francisco Cordero has been one of the best closers in all of baseball, posting 327 saves in his 12 seasons in the majors, including 30 or more in five straight. But with a run of ninth-inning pitchers flooding the marketplace this offseason, there just aren’t enough jobs out there.
Enter the Phillies, who look to be willing to add another veteran arm for the bullpen if the price is right. Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times says the Phillies are one of a handful of teams inquiring about the longtime closer. Inquiring is where it should end. The same goes for Lidge.
I’m one of Brad Lidge’s biggest fans; the dude was super-clutch for the Phillies in their title-winning year. He was one of the main reasons they have a ring. It was perfection from start to finish, something you don’t often see. However, who knows what is holding that arm together.
Lidge was sensational last season in only 19 appearances as he got a late start due to injury. He finished with a 1.40 ERA and held batters to a .225 average. Still, there are red flags.
Not only is his arm possibly glued together (lost count of how many cortisone shots he’s had), but he can’t get out righties. As odd as it may sound, lefties hit .097 against Lidge in 2011 with a miniscule .372 OPS. Against same-handed batters, Lidge allowed them to hit .325. It’s a small sample size and it’s also unlikely to be sustainable, but if Lidge can no longer get righties out – because he’s not fooling them any longer – then what good is he? He’s not going to shut down lefties and become a specialist. It just doesn’t work that way.
What also doesn’t make much sense for Lidge is the money. If he’s looking for a major league, guaranteed deal, then that’s just too much. Anything more than $1-2 million for an aging arm would be a bad move for the Phillies, especially with the back end of the ‘pen mostly above 30. And knows how old Jose Contreras is at this point.
As for Cordero, do you really need two closers? He’ll likely command (just guessing) at least $5 million on a one-year deal, and will turn 37 this year. You’ve got a top three closer, one of the best lefties in baseball, and a bunch of young arms just waiting to break out. Look, not every bullpen is like the Atlanta Braves. But it doesn’t have to be. The Phillies won 102 games last year with a merry-go-round of guys. They’ll likely be fine without spending that sort of coin.
Really, I want to see Michael Schwimer, Justin DeFratus, or Joe Savery take the job and run with it. The Phillies can afford to take their chances this year as they’ll still have the best 1-2-3 rotation in baseball. Those guys will eat innings.
Hopefully, Ruben Amaro will stay away from the glow that Cordero will bring. And there’s no longer any sort of glow coming from Lidge, but it’s easy to call the guy back. That, too, would be the wrong move.